By Rotimi Fasan
THE ongoing feud between the Musiliu Smith-led Police Service Commission, PSC and Muhammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police, over the recruitment of police personnel reflects how high and deep the culture of corruption, driven by self-interest, has permeated all sections of the Nigerian society, with or without the roof-top anti-corruption crusade of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
As much as one would want to hold Buhari, on account of observable acts of nepotism, responsible for some of this disgraceful behaviour under his watch, it has to be admitted that there is only so much an individual can do.
In other words, while Buhari’s acts of nepotism may have set a terrible precedent for many appointees of his, it will not explain, not to say adequately account for, the high level of corruption and disregard for laid down procedures that is the bane of Nigeria’s public service and the private sector as a whole.
Violation of all known principles of merit and best practices in our everyday existence has become a way of life in itself. It is simply ingrained in most of us in any positions of authority, even in our own homes. That we operate a Constitution that is so pliant and open to all kinds of manipulation by reason of meeting a “federal character” requirement before consideration into all state institutions would appear to offer Nigerians a licence to be corrupt.
Many Nigerians are, therefore, necessarily poised to ensure how they can be first and best served in any situation they find themselves. It is one reason why we would join to condemn a corrupt act and prosecute persons guilty of such acts one minute and in the next minute proceed to do not just the same thing but worse.
As for the feud between the PSC and IG Adamu, there does not appear to be an end in sight. But when peace finally returns to Louis Edet House, the high level of bile and resentment that would have been generated by the present crisis would take quite a while to clear up. Yet, bad as it is, today’s combatants would once again become friends. The cause of today’s bad blood is what would again unite them. In this present dispute, there can never be any permanent friends nor enemies. Otherwise, both the PSC and the IG would not be going through this nauseatingly repetitive circle of an avoidable face-off. Neither side in the feud can be said to be fighting for the interest of ordinary Nigerians.
I said this feud is a repeated act of foolishness. What do I mean by this? Simply that we have been here before. But before I walk you through what transpired before now, let us be reminded that the cause of this roforofo between the PSC and the IG is the recruitment of 10,000 police personnel for community policing. Both the PSC and the IG have locked horns over the course of a few months now as to who has the power to determine who of the prospective recruits should be employed.
The point at issue between them really, when viewed from another perspective, is which of these fighters has the power to bring in the greater number of both qualified but, most likely, unqualified applicants than the other. The PSC which is responsible for all matters that pertain to the employment, discipline and promotion of all police officers with the singular exception of the IG who is appointed by and responsible to the President, rightly thinks it should preside in this issue, while IG Adamu thinks otherwise.
In a bid to assert their power, each side has drawn up what it claims is the authentic list (implying that the other has a fake list) of qualified recruits and has released it (in the case of the IG) or is promising to do so (for the PSC). Nigerians must remember that the same issue of recruitment was a thorny one between the Mike Okiro-led PSC and Ibrahim Idris, the immediate past IG. Granted that Idris never hid the fact that his appointment as IG was an opportunity to feather his own nest, how about Adamu?
Unlike Idris whose first act upon resuming as IG was to complain about how rickety his official car was and battle his predecessor over the return of official cars he allegedly took illegally with him on retirement, Adamu cut the image of and was presented as a more disciplined, professionally-minded officer. But here he is, bogged down and stalemated for a couple of months now by the same matter that soured the relationship between Okiro and Idris Ibrahim.
Worse yet is the fact that Adamu’s list was drawn up in total disregard of the much-abused principle of federal character, with his Nasarawa State emerging the state with the highest number of slots.
This, even though allotment was supposedly made on the skewed basis of the number of local governments (as if that was objectively arrived at) per state. Nasarawa State is not by any stretch of the imagination the state with the highest number of local governments in Nigeria. That it has emerged the state with more recruits than any is only a result of Adamu’s artifice, made possible by the fact he is the IG.
Many states had their slots reduced, while others were jerked up for no clear reason but the fact that those who drew up the list felt they had the power to. The President Buhari’s state of Katsina, now one of the most favoured in the country, comes second in terms of allotment on Adamu’s list.
During the last DSS recruitment under its dismissed director, Lawal Daura, Katsina State had the highest number of enlistments in total violation of the federal character principle. Since when it may be asked, did it become a principle of national governance that recruitment should be done to favour only people in positions of authority- the very same people who have all the advantages of governance and control the national treasury whether directly or indirectly?
How can ordinary Nigerians enjoy the benefits of this commonwealth if all the gains are reserved for a few people in power? Let nobody forget that the National Assembly is presently enmeshed in its own employment scandal in which ranking officers have been fingered in the unconscionable act of cornering scores of slots in new recruitment into federal agencies.
Do we have to remind those in authority that Nigeria is for all Nigerians and not a few mongers of power?